The Drake Hotel in New York, Fair Franchising is Not an Oxymoron,
By the Numbers, Another Secret Underground Shelter,
Passing of Anthony G. Marshall
|By Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC
1. The Drake Hotel, Park Avenue at 56th Street, is being demolished. Built in 1927, on 21 floors when it opened its doors in the “Roaring Twenties,” it boasted innovations such as automatic refrigeration as well as spacious, luxurious rooms and suites. Bing and Bing, noted builders, owned and operated the hotel for more than 35 years. In the early 1960’s entrepreneur William Zeckendorf acquired the hotel, added guest rooms and opened New York’s first discotheque, Shepheard’s. In 1965, the Tisch brothers acquired the Drake and hired me to be Loews first General Manager. My memories are, therefore, based on the two and a half terrific years that I served as GM:
The hotel’s restaurant was the Drake Room which opened in December 21, 1945. It was the pet project of hotelman Walter Redell (Cornell graduate from Cleveland). The Drake Room was a success from the start with its unique ceramic tree, great food, and impeccable service under the direction of Nino Schiavone, Maitre de. Stars of the entertainment world, bankers and politicians made the Drake Room one of the most cosmopolitan rooms in New York. Redell hired the best salon piano player in town for the opening. Cy Walter remained the feature performer for six years. When I became GM, I brought Cy Walter back to the Drake Room and got MGM Records to produce a fabulous LP: “Cy Walter at The Drake,” (see the cover photograph of a Steinway grand piano on 56th St. under the Drake porte cochere).
One of the most famous dishes in the Drake Room was Steak Nino, a version of Steak Diane.
Evidence suggests that Steak Diane was an American invention of the late 1950’s when French cooking was all the rage. Jane Nickerson’s article “Steak Worthy of the Name” (New York Times, January 25, 1953) suggests three likely candidates in New York City as originators: The Drake Hotel, the Sherry- Netherland Hotel and the Colony Restaurant. Nino Schiavone of the Drake Room claimed that he was the first to introduce Steak Nino to New York and, in fact, to the entire United States. Nino cooked the prime steak in sweet butter mixed with fresh chives and other seasonings flamed with cognac and sherry at the tableside. Nino dispatched nearly twenty-five thousand copies of his famous recipe all over the world.
The most famous and successful discothèque in Manhattan was Shepheard’s at the Drake which was open seven days a week for cocktails, dinner and supper with continuous dancing from 7:30 PM to 3AM. Luncheon was served Monday through Friday and special brunch on Sunday from noon to 4PM. At lunch there were fashion shows and for some years, at noon time, a talk radio program featuring the Metropolitan Opera’s Mimi Benzell as hostess with famous guests.
We printed and distributed a card entitled, “How to Do the Newest Discotheque Dances at Shepheard’s in New York’s Drake Hotel” with step-by-step instructions to dance the Jerk, Watusi, Frug and the Monkey. Killer Joe Piro’s party was a regular feature at Shepheard’s. The discotheque was so successful that patrons lined up on 56th Street and around the corner on Park Avenue to wait (even on the winter’s coldest nights) to be admitted where they paid a hefty cover charge to dance to disco music.
The Drake’s guest list included such famous classical musicians as Alicia del la Rocha, Dame Myra Hess and Glenn Gould. Also celebrities like Milton Berle, Leon Bibb, Paul Anka, Muhammed Ali (soft spoken and kind), Barry Goldwater and many more.
On my office wall, the following framed note on Drake Hotel letterhead with a signed photograph is hung in a prominent location:
Dear Mr. Turkel,2. Fair Franchising is not an oxymoron. While new franchisors recognize the importance of creating a genuine partnership with their franchisees, the largest hotel franchise companies get tougher and tougher. Hotel owners should take note that Hilton, Marriott, InterContinental, Wyndham and Choice usually do not negotiate franchise agreements except with the largest franchisee companies. Therefore, savvy hotel owners are signing agreements with a new breed of franchise companies who understand that fair franchising is not an oxymoron:
5. I note with sadness the death of
Anthony G. Marshall, JD, CHA, CHE (1939-2006) who was widely known as an
educator, lawyer and columnist. Tony served as president of the Educational
Institute of the American Hotel & Lodging Association after 27 years
as dean of the School of Hospitality Management at Florida International
University in Miami. Marshall’s semi-monthly column “At Your Risk”
published in Hotel & Motel Management magazine was indispensable for
its focus on accident prevention, guest security and safety, and owner’s
exposures and liabilities. He will be missed for his good nature,
trademark bowtie, broad knowledge, common sense and wit.
Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC operates his hotel consulting office as a sole practitioner specializing in franchising issues, asset management and litigation support services. Turkel’s clients are hotel owners and franchisees, investors and lending institutions. Turkel serves on the Board of Advisors at the NYU Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management. He is a member of the prestigious International Society of Hospitality Consultants. His provocative articles on various hotel subjects have been published in the Cornell Quarterly, Lodging Hospitality, Hotel Interactive, Hotel Online, AAHOA Lodging Business, Bottomline, New York Times, etc. If you need help with a hotel operations or franchising problem such as encroachment/impact, termination/liquidated damages or litigation support, don’t hesitate to call 917-628-8549 or email email@example.com.
Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC
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|Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 17 - AAHOA's 12 Points of Fair Franchising, Protected Territories, / Stanley Turkel / September 2006|
|The Newest Independent (and Oldest Partially Independent) Franchise Association in the Hotel Industry / Stanley Turkel / September 2006|
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|Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 14; Impact Studies, Stretching Segments, Short-Stay Rentals, Smoke-free Marriotts, Franchising in China, Save the Belleview Biltmore Hotel / August 2006|
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|Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 12; Portman, Women Homeowners, Minimum Wage, Tipping, Brooklyn Bridge, Chinese Tourism, Impact Studies / Stanley Turkel / July 2006|
|Do Hotel Franchisees Need Independent Franchise Associations? / Stanley Turkel / June 2006|
|Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 10 / Chinese Tourists, Gasoline Prices and Alternatives, GLBT Segment, Travel Agents, FAC's, Manhattan's Record Breaking Year, Impertinent Questions / Stanley Turkel / June 2006|
|Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 9 / Blang, Bathtubs, Best Green, Arbitration, Best Western, AAHOA, State Franchising Laws, VFR / Stanley Turkel / May 2006|
|Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 8; Bathtubs, Smokefree Hotels, Maps, Saving Water, Nevada Revenues, H.P. Rama, Ritz-Carlton, Statler Service Code, Mother’s Day / Stanley Turkel / April 2006|
|Nobody Asked Me, But….No. 7 / Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC / March 2006|
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